Archive for October, 2011
I was going through my Facebook feed several days ago and I came across this shocking juxtaposition of stories on two separate robberies.
On the face it seems really plain and simple doesn’t it?
I was doubtful, so I went googling around to find out more. Snopes says its true. There is a good article on About.com about it, but the comment thread really raises doubts on the simplicity presented in the picture above.
Let us address the Mortgage CEO first. Some key text in the AP article is “for his role in a $3 billion scheme”. I don’t know exactly what happened, but the argument was made that Paul R. Allen was a CEO in name only. Apparently he worked from home and the Chairman actually orchestrated much of the fraud. Did Allen know about the fraud? Yes. Should he have caught this and stopped it? Yes. The judge in his case says he was made aware of problems, but did nothing. Allen for his part acknowledged his errors, admitted that “I messed up. I messed up big“, and he was generally remorseful.
Let us address the homeless bank robber. On its face, Roy Brown should be sentenced to community service, thanked for his honesty, and released. However, the article states that he had “one of his hands under his jacket.” That is shitty reporting. Its a euphemism for saying that his hand was under his jacket mimicking a gun. That makes the robbery technically armed. Doing that is like making a terrorist joke at the airport or threatening the President: there is an automatic assumption that you’re not joking, and its taken seriously.
There also is the question of Brown’s criminal history. I’ve not been able to get a news source on this, the About.com article comments, as well as another discussion site both mention he has eight prior convictions. What for? I don’t know. It also looks like Brown’s fake weapon triggered Louisiana’s three strike law, which increased his sentence.
However, the deeper question raised by the article is the criminalization of drug use. Brown stole the money “to stay at the detox center”. I know that the government doesn’t have unlimited funds, but I’m sure that its cheaper to spend the money on getting someone through detox than to put them in prison for 15 years.
Brown ran afoul of the law while playing the shitty hand that was likely half dealt to him and half picked up by him. In an ideal world, he shouldn’t have even needed the money that he stole from the bank. To really fix the root cause of the problem you’ve gotta dig deeper than just these two articles and sentencing laws.
Finally, Lee Farkas, the Chairman whom committed the mortgage fraud? He got 30 years in prison. He’s the only criminal in this blog entry who didn’t show any remorse. Asshole.